With the emergence of the circular economy concept in recent years, consumers seem more in search of meaning and transparency from brands. More and more sectorial organizations and companies in the clothing industry are speaking out and raising awareness of more ethical fashion and clothing consumption. For example, following the collapse of the garment factories and to raise public awareness at Rana Plaza in 2013, the Fashion Revolution made citizens question the manufacturing of the clothes they wear. Where are they made, under what conditions, with what material? The clothing industry involves complex business processes that are of increasing interest to consumers.
It appears that with the COVID-19 crisis, the emerging recent consumer trends have accelerated and been reinforced, and local consumption is one of these trends.
Therefore, it appears that consumers are moving more towards locally designed and / or manufactured products. A Retail Council of Canada study (May 2020), on the post-COVID-19 consumer profile highlights local shopping as one of the 10 consumer trends to watch for. In fact, 18% of respondents say they have been buying more local products since the crisis began. Despite a seemingly low rate, this translates into a significant change in the retail environment. In addition, 53% intend to buy local more often. In Quebec, this trend is more marked than elsewhere in Canada with respective rates of 27 and 71%.
The Observatoire de la consommation responsable (OCR) of the École des sciences de la gestion at UQAM, indicated that 46% of respondents were buying more locally made products in its study published last April.
Another interesting fact that can be found in the Blue Study conducted by the Canadian Retail Council, and in collaboration with the Léger marketing firm, the consumer most likely to buy locally is a 55-year-old francophone woman. Moreover, it appears that the origin of the good is a more significant purchase incentive for the consumer than the choice of business. Therefore, this is a competitive advantage and a strong differentiator for a merchant who chooses to sell local products rather than imported products.
However, there are certain obstacles to local consumption: As stated by Fabien Durif from the École des sciences de la gestion at UQAM: “there are three major obstacles among Quebecers in terms of local consumption: price, availability and product identification. The consumer must be able to identify what a locally produced product is.” It should also be noted that according to the Blue Study, on average, Quebecers are willing to pay 5% more to buy locally.
Furthermore, among the trends that should not be overlooked is the growth in online shopping, which has increased with the lockdown. This new challenge forces brands to embrace the digital shift to offer a successful shopping experience, and to rethink their collections to meet the needs of people who are working from home. According to the Retail Council of Canada study, 65% of Quebecers are dressing more casually. This may have benefited, for example, yoga clothing manufacturer Lululemon Athletica, which experienced one of its best quarters last spring.
Finally, business ethics are just as important to fashion consumers. According to the global trend forecasting agency for fashion and design professionals, Trendstop, Generation Z has been sensitive to the reactions of brands during the pandemic. 28% of respondents say they have stopped buying from certain brands because of their reaction to the pandemic.
Given these various findings, it would appear that enthusiasm for local purchasing has been reinforced among consumers during lockdown. Strategies were quickly put in place to respond to this practice, and to support local businesses during a new economic crisis. The “Panier bleu” is one of these strategies and although the longevity of these purchasing behaviors is not guaranteed, the fact remains that clothing stakeholders will have to ensure that these behaviors are considered in their business model.
Vestechpro is working with the clothing industry to support the adoption of circular economy business models. If you would like to know more about this, or would like to be accompanied in order to provide your business model with the benefit of these considerations, we would be happy to discuss this with you: [email protected]!